Foreign direct investments (FDIs) contribute quite substantially to African economies every year. In 2018, the flows of these monies towards Africa were quite steady and the key investors involved were the United States of America, France, the United Kingdom, China, the United Emirates and India. Chinas’ capital investment during this year was double that of the U.S. and France while China, the United Arab Emirates and India accounted for more than 34 percent of projects implemented and 50 percent of jobs created during this period in Africa. Furthermore, investments between African nations increased during the same time scope with South Africa as the leader with its numerous investments in other countries on the continent, as well as Nigeria and Kenya investing mainly in the East of Africa, and Morocco and Egypt investing in the majority in Northern Africa.
According to the Central Bank of The Gambia’s official website,www. cbg.gm, their main mission is the following:
“The mandate of the Central Bank of The Gambia in accordance with the CBG Act 2005 is as follows:
- Achieve and maintain price stability;
- Promote and maintain the stability of the currency of The Gambia;
- Direct and regulate the financial, insurance, banking and currency system in the interest of the economic development of The Gambia; and
- Encourage and promote sustainable economic development and the efficient utilization of the resources of The Gambia through the effective and efficient operation of a financial system”.
The financial institutions and enterprises in The Gambia are regulated by this body that manages the country’s financial legislation in coordination with the Ministry of Finance and the National Assembly. However, the key institution that handles the Foreign Direct Investments for The Gambia is the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), whose mission is as follows:
“The Gambia Investment & Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA) is the National Agency established by an Act of Parliament in July 2010 responsible for the promotion and facilitation of Private Sector Investments into The Gambia”.
In offering investor–facilitation services, the Agency acts as investors’ first point of contact, provides information on relevant procedures for setting up a business, and helps form the necessary network of contacts in The Gambia for successful business operations.
GIEPA advises and collaborates with the Government of The Gambia, the private sector and civil society towards developing a globally competitive business environment. Key functions center on promoting the exportation of Gambian goods, developing and regulating The Gambia’s only business park, formulating investment promotion, export and enterprise development strategies, employment creation and wealth generation through private sector led growth as enshrined in the Vision 2020 as well as the Program for Accelerated Growth and Employment (PAGE, 2012-2015).
“To promote a conducive environment, attract investments, develop exports and support businesses with the overriding objective of contributing towards employment creation and wealth generation.”
“A world class agency that promotes and facilitates private sector led growth.”
According to UNCTAD, the FDI Stock and Inflows in (2016) for The Gambia were in the respective amounts: US$317.8mn for stock and US$1.8mn for inflows.
The GIEPA states further that:
“Trade is important to The Gambia’s economy; the value of exports and imports taken together equals 58% of GDP. Foreign and domestic investors are generally treated equally under the law. Credit to the private sector has gradually increased. Economic activity is expected to pick up slightly in the coming years premised on normal cropping season, recovery in trade and tourism, improved macroeconomic policies and restoration of confidence in the economy”.
The investment opportunities in The Gambia according to the GIEPA today are many and vary according to the economic sectors. They are notably in:
- The Agriculture Sector which has 558,000 hectares of very good quality arable land, of which only 200,000 hectares are currently under rain fed agricultural production. Investors are sought in the following sub-sectors: horticulture, animal production, agricultural mechanization, agro industries, agribusiness.
- The Air Services Sector
- The Energy Sector with the following opportunities:
- Increase in generating capacity that is presently inadequate
- Capital investment to improve the poor state of the transmission and distribution system which results in high technical losses and un-metered consumption estimated at about 40%
- Improving efficiencies so as to reduce the extremely high cost of energy estimated at an average of US$0.18
- Encouraging green energy through use of Solar Energy and windmills
- The Fisheries Sector with the following opportunities:
- Fish and shrimp farming
- Fish processing at industrial level – smoking, canning and export of fresh fish
- Provision of cold storage facilities
- Building and repairs of fishing boats, vessels and trawlers
- Financing/leasing of fishing vessels
- The ICT Sector with the following opportunities:
- Internet services (excluding international backbone)
- Mobile Operator services (excluding international gateway)
- Prepaid service platforms
- Cable and satellite TV broadcasting
- Access centers
- Radio stations
- The Light Manufacturing Sector with the following opportunities:
Horticulture (processing and value – adding for fruits and vegetables): for the export and domestic market
- Fisheries: the processing and value adding of the abundant fisheries resources, Jumbo shrimps, lobsters, oysters, and smoked/dry fish offers good investment opportunities
- Light Manufacturing and Assembly of High Value for the Export Market using the Free Export Processing Zone: There exist investment opportunities in light pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, packing materials, ceramic tiles and sanitary wares, garments, mineral water and leather shoes. Investment opportunities also exist in bulk importation and reprocessing and repackaging
- The River Transport Sector with the following opportunities: GPA is interested in a Joint Venture/Strategic Alliance in Infrastructural development of the Port, its subsidiaries, Ferries and the Shipyard
- The Tourism Sector with the following opportunities:
- Eco-tourism and nature activities – river sports and cruising, tour operators
- Up-country tourism
- Integrated resorts and family villas
- 4-5 star hotel development
The 3rd Republic of the Gambia has the road map drafted to succeed in its ambitions for economic independence to be achieved. Each and every citizen and friend of the Republic should brainstorm and help the nation achieve these goals by engaging with their fair share of leaders around the globe. Conferences and seminars should also be prioritized in our newly innovated international conference center located on the Coastal Road: “Two minds work better than one” or “Great minds think alike”.